Why giving up could boost your looks

If you need an excuse to join the many people attempting to quit on No Smoking Day (March 9, 2016), look no further. Or, rather, look in the mirror.

According to a survey commissioned by leading health charity, the British Heart Foundation, more than a third of smokers in this country have noticed a difference in their appearance since they took up the habit.

The survey suggests 36 percent of smokers worry their teeth are becoming discoloured, while one in in five have noticed more wrinkles. Other concerns include yellow fingers, bags under the eyes and weak and yellow nails.

“Smoking ages the skin and increases the likelihood of developing wrinkles, but it also ages the entire body,” says Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the BHF. “Your eyes, heart and even your hair are affected every time you light up.”

The charity’s report also suggests more than 80 percent of smokers spend up to £100 a month on beauty products to improve their physical appearance. More than two thirds also say they think smoking looks ‘unattractive’.

In fact, the report found that more people are concerned about the damage smoking does to their appearance than the risk of serious health issues such as heart disease. More than 60 percent of smokers said they fear the affect smoking is having on their looks, but one in 10 admit they aren’t worried about the way it could be harming their heart.

Sarah’s story

Sarah Lee Taylor, 31, has given up a pack-a-day habit for good, and is now celebrating 10 years smoke free. One of her main motivations was the damage it was doing to her appearance.

“Smoking made my hair lank and my skin dull and greasy,” she says. “I noticed a change almost immediately when I quit. My skin started glowing again. I didn’t look as tired, and I actually lost weight. People were constantly telling me I looked radiant.

“Quitting smoking was hard, but if I can do it, anyone can. I’m really proud to be an ex-smoker and still get a little rush when I can say to someone, ‘No, I don’t smoke’.”

One in five

The BHF estimates almost one in five adults in the UK still smokes cigarettes, with the average smoker spending more than £250 a month on their habit. But out of the smokers quizzed in the survey, the overwhelming majority claimed they want to quit, with nearly seven out of every 10 smokers saying the hoped to kick the habit. More than six out of 10 also admit they worry about quitting every day.

“Quitting smoking is the single best thing you can do for your heart health, but it can also stop or even reverse these signs of ageing,” adds Dr Knapton. “We’re asking smokers to use Wednesday 9 March to take the first step towards a smoke-free life and join more than 600,000 others who will also be making a quit attempt on the day.”

Pharmacy help

If you plan to give up this No Smoking Day – or, indeed on any other date – your local Careway pharmacist can offer you lots of professional advice and support that may help, including how to avoid the weight gain that affects some people when they quit. Your pharmacist can give you other tips too, and help you to find the stop smoking products that could help you cope with cravings.

For instance, many pharmacies stock nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products that release nicotine into your bloodstream gradually. This is useful because it can help you to manage your nicotine withdrawal symptoms when you give up.

There are various types of NRT products available, including patches, gum, lozenges, inhalators, tablets, nasal spray and oral spray. The product that may be the most suitable for you usually depends on your lifestyle and the type of smoker you are – just ask your pharmacist to help you choose.

E-cigarettes are widely available these days too. But remember, these are not currently a licensed treatment for stopping smoking.

Need help with giving up smoking? Speak to your local Careway pharmacist today and be prepared for No Smoking Day on March 9). Find your nearest participating pharmacy at www.careway.co.uk/find-a-pharmacy.

Meanwhile, to get involved in No Smoking Day or to receive information and support on stopping smoking visit nosmokingday.org.uk. Join the conversation on Twitter by following @NoSmokingDay and using the hashtag #NoSmokingDay.